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No end to Aleppo suffering as 'Russia targets hospitals'

Much of Aleppo, once Syria's commercial hub, now lies in ruin [AFP]

Date of publication: 17 November, 2016

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The Syrian Civil Defence reported that over 80 civilians were killed in East Aleppo and the surrounding countryside on Wednesday, with more hospitals falling victim to suspected Russian airstrikes.
At least 87 civilians were killed in Aleppo and surrounding countryside in the previous 24 hours amid renewed Syrian regime and Russian bombardment that began in the area on Monday.

The toll came late on Wednesday from the Syrian Civil Defence, or White Helmets, the main rescue group operating in rebel-held eastern Aleppo.

Civilian structures targeted in East Aleppo on Wednesday included the Bayan Children’s hospital. Three hospitals in Syria have been targeted by Syrian and Russian airstrikes since Monday.

Speaking on Thursday Francois Delattre, France’s UN ambassador, described such attacks targeting medical facilities as “war crimes” stating that the Syrian regime’s current campaign on East Aleppo was serving to “fuel terrorism”.

"Make no mistake about it," Delattre said, speaking at the UN headquarters in New York. "Bombing Aleppo and its population is not fighting against terrorism, as the regime pretends.”

Over the last few days missiles from Russia's Mediterranean fleet, and cluster, napalm and barrel bomb attacks have all been reportedly used in attacks on East Aleppo.

Despite international protestations on Thursday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that both air raids, and fighting on the ground were ongoing in several areas of East Aleppo with shelling reported in the neighbourhoods of Hanano, al-Sakhur, al-Haidariya, and Bab al-Neirab, and fierce clashes reportedly taking place between pro-regime and rebel forces in the Jama’at al-Zahra’a neighbourhood of the city.

With East Aleppo besieged by regime forces, the UN has also reported that the last food rations in the area have been handed out contributing to an ever more desperate humanitarian situation with more than 250,000 people said to be trapped in the area.

Russia is also carrying out strikes in Idlib province, claiming to have hit "al-Qaeda terrorists" in a ministry of defence statement on Thursday.

The strikes, which began on Tuesday, were part of a major operation against extremists in Idlib and Homs which saw the first missions carried out by Russian warplanes taking off from the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier that arrived off Syria last week.

In the statement, ministry spokesman Igor Konachenkov said those killed were fighters with the Fateh al-Sham Front.

"According to information from different intelligence sources, at least 30 terrorists were killed," he said, indicating that one of them was an extremist leader charged with "preparing and carrying out a new offensive in Aleppo".

Idlib province is mostly controlled by a powerful rebel alliance known as the Army of Conquest, which groups Islamist factions with extremists of the Fateh al-Sham Front, formerly al-Qaeda's Syrian affiliate.

Russia has been carrying out airstrikes on Syria since September 2015 to support the regime of ally Bashar Assad and insists it is only hitting "terrorist targets".

The deadly war in Syria has killed more than 300,000 people since it started in March 2011 with a wave of anti-government protests.





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